diploma.jpgThere is little trust in our nation’s workplaces today, and a recent job-hunting trend is proof of that.

I spoke with a job seeker in New York yesterday who has been out of work since late last year, and he told me a shocking story.

He had two interviews with a major employer and on the second one he was asked to bring his college diploma. Not a copy, not a college transcript but the actual sheepskin.

Panic set in a bit for this man who wondered if he could find the diploma after all these years. He had graduated nearly two decades earlier and while he didn’t recall throwing the thing out he wasn’t sure he could readily find it.

Luckily he did, although it was a bit dusty.

This job seeker heading for his interview with dusty diploma in hand, and couldn’t help but ask the people interviewing him why they made the odd request. “They told me in the past they had people fib about their education and experience, sometimes even saying they had a masters degree when they actually never received a degree,” he explained.

What if he couldn’t find his diploma? “They said they would have called the university themselves,” he noted.

So, I thought, it may be a matter of ultimate laziness then. But these hiring managers aren’t really that busy lately since most companies are keeping hiring to a minimum.

What gives?

Basically, people aren’t always honest about their education, said Revi Goldwasser, a job hunting expert.

“They may just lie about having it, writing on their resume Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Admin from UCLA May 2002 graduation, when in fact they never went, or, they may mislead you by writing on their resume: Bachelor of Science in Business Admin UCLA and not write a date,” she said.

“I have learned the hard way that sometimes job seekers do not write the date because they never graduated,” she added. “That is their way ‘out’ if asked during background check: ‘Revi, I never wrote the date so that should have shown you I never obtained my degree.’ That has actually happened to me several times.”

But even Goldwasser is surprised that job seekers are being asked to bring in the actual diploma.

“Perhaps during interview mode, this is acceptable, but once an offer has been made, firms should request official transcripts be forwarded directly from the school to the hiring company, without ever touching the hands of the job seeker,” she advised.

The reason, she continued, is because “there are online companies that issue fake diplomas and fake transcripts for all the universities out there and these companies make the diplomas and transcripts look identical to the real thing.”

And you are not going to believe this, but here’s a link to a fake diploma site she sent me called Diploma Makers:

Here’s a snippet of their promo:

For unmatched high quality fake diplomas, fake degrees and fake transcripts, DiplomaMakers.com has exactly what you’re looking for. With an eye for detail and that sense of authenticity, each fake diplomas and transcripts is designed as close too genuine as you can find. Now you can bring that sense of accomplishment and ambition to your home or office with a realistic novelty diploma or fake transcript from DiplomaMakers.com

If you’re thinking this might be a good route for you, beware.

One Illinois women got arrested earlier this year for using a fake degree to land a gig. This from a local TV station:

38 year-old Ladea Allen was sentenced to 24 months probation after pleading guilty to unlawful use of an academic degree.

Officials say Allen lied about her level of education to land a job at a Vienna counseling facility.

According to investigators, the Family Counseling Center hired Ladea Allen as a Youth Outpatient Counselor. It’s a position that involves working with kids, and requires at least a Bachelor’s Degree.

Officials say Allen lied about having that degree– and when pressed for proof of it– she produced a phony college transcript.

Despite this clear deception, the whole “show-me-the-diploma” phenomenon makes me a bit uneasy. I couldn’t find any data on how often job hunters lie about stuff like this, but I’m assuming Allen is a rare bird. Indeed, Goldwasser said, “99% of the job seekers are highly professional.”

It’s a shame that the occasional fibber causes hiring managers and HR folks to freak out and over react.

Given all the paranoia out there, I’m glad my husband framed my diploma from Hofstra University years ago. When I’m out there pounding the pavement for a new job, it will be nice to know the degree is hanging right behind me in my home office. I’m thinking I’ll bring it in, frame and all, if some hiring manager asks me to prove I graduated.

What’s your take? Have we fallen off the cynical cliff when it comes to not trusting people?

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